Desktop Virtualization Revisited Part Two: Microsoft’s Virtual PC

Small, simple, stable and priced right: Is Microsoft's Virtual PC a good introduction to the world of virtualization and a great way to pull Linux into a Windows environment?

Install the Operating System

Before you begin installing the operating system into the new VM, select your new VM in the inventory window and select Settings on the Console. These are the specific attributes for your VM. To make changes to any of the values or locations, the VM has to be powered off. Once you’re satisfied with the settings, click OK to close the Setting window and return to the Console.

Note: You can’t select a bootable ISO image from the CD/DVD drive settings.

Place a bootable CD in the CD/DVD drive and power on the VM by clicking Start on the Console. If you don’t have a bootable CD, power on the VM and when the VM window opens, select CD->Capture ISO Image from the menu. This action suspends the VM until you locate the bootable ISO image. Select the bootable ISO image and allow the VM to boot. Proceed through the installation just as you would for a physical machine.

Officially Supported Guest OSs

  • Windows 98
  • Windows NT Workstation
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows XP
  • OS/2
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows NT Server
  • Windows 2000 Server
  • Windows Server 2003
  • Windows Server 2008
  • Other

Virtual PC is a solid program that does exactly what you want it to: It allows you to run multiple operating systems at one time. It is not a heavy production application but it has its place on your desktop. If you need to use your host computer for one task and guest to connect to a corporate network or other resource, Virtual PC is your answer. Response for Windows guests is acceptable as long as you remember to install the virtual machine tools into all your guest VMs. Additionally, if you’re running a host desktop with a newer Intel or AMD CPU with built-in hardware virtualization, Virtual PC now recognizes it and response is snappy.

Though it’s a Windows-only application, it’s small, simple, stable and priced right for any budget. It’s a great learning tool and a gentle introduction to the world of virtualization.

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